Sidetrek: Past Nightmares
Once everyone’s assembled in the living room, Trilliny takes a deep breath to calm herself and steps forward.
“It seems that one of the shadows from my past has caught up to us here. A falcon construct took out one of my songbirds that was following Taalah this morning, and the arcane signature on it is familiar. Judging by the horse tracks we found, he brought reinforcements as well. I don’t know quite what to expect, or how much trouble it’ll cause, but if my past might bring trouble down on us here, I should… tell the truth about it for once.”
She sighs and closes her eyes.
“My name is Trilliny Volsencroft. I was born in the city of Korranberg in the nation of Zilargo on Khorvaire. My parents aren’t really important to this; I was the youngest child, the troublemaker, and while we cared for each other most of it involved arguments, misbehavior, and larceny. What matters is my only sibling and sister, Alessa.
“Alessa was the jewel of my parents’ eyes. Beautiful, smart, charming, obedient, well-mannered… I should’ve been jealous of her. And sometimes, I was. But we were close. She was the only one that treated me with respect, saw potential in me. I returned the favor by watching out for her and doing what I could for her.” Trilliny chuckles a bit. "My first constructs were songbirds for her. She could sing better than some bards I knew, while my voice cracked notes, so I crafted a songbird to sing with her for me. She loved it, asked for more… I obliged. It was a symbol of our bond.
“When she turned 18, she began attending the university, studying to become an illusionist. We visited each other every so often to catch up. One day, she said some traveling professor had visited, talking about the planes and even giving their group a ritual that would let them peek into Dal Quor, the Land of Dreams. I advised her against it; from what I had read, that place was mostly bad news. She said she would consider it.
“We didn’t meet again until weeks later. She hadn’t visited as often as she used to; I was worried. I stopped by her apartment that night to check on her. She said she had been ill and was recuperating, but something was off. Her voice didn’t sound warm enough, the songbirds acted too nervous, I felt it in my gut… I asked her if something was wrong, she dismissed it, I was still concerned but didn’t push too hard…
“…Well, not until she took advantage of a hug to jam a dagger into my gut.”
Trilliny sighs and closes her eyes a moment.
“I’ve… told a few people what happened next. The shock, the blood, her cursing as I stumbled backwards before she could strike a vital point, trying to subdue her while frantically asking what the hell she was doing, getting blasted by her illusion spells, stumbling around as my senses twisted and warped, the cackling, the screaming… she was going to kill me. My sister was going to kill me.
“Then my songbirds attacked her. They gave me an opening to recover; she blasted them out of the air. The dying shrieks, the crash of metal scattering across the floor, watching the symbols of our love get destroyed by this… this thing…”
Trilliny grits her teeth.
“I’ve said before my sister was possessed, she tried to kill me, then died and I was framed for her murder. I… never mentioned what killed her…
“A crossbow bolt. I shot a crossbow bolt straight through her heart. I screamed in rage and anguish and shot my beloved sister dead.
“She was still cackling when I came to my senses. With her last gasp, she grinned viciously at me and… something dissipated from her body. I suddenly realized what I had done. I rushed to her side, tried to revive her, screamed her name a few times like she’d just wake up… and then just broke down, sobbing and wailing and cradling her body in my arms.
“Someone opened the door and shouted. I don’t remember who. I just remember realizing I was caught red-handed murdering her. I bolted, dived through a window, ran for dear life like a fox from hounds. I collapsed in an abandoned alley hours later. My sister was dead, my family wouldn’t take me in, and the Trust was trying to make me disappear for my crime. I was alone…”
She sighs and looks back up at the others.
“The months blurred after that. Narrow escapes, a betrayal or two before I learned better than to trust anyone, stealing to survive, sleeping in sewers, always running, always hiding. The only reason I didn’t curl up and die was sheer wrath. My sister died, her possessor escaped scotfree. I couldn’t let it end like that.
“I found a safe haven, hunkered down, worked myself raw training and constructing for combat against anything that would twist people like that. Ghosts, undead, quori, demons, lycanthropes, dominators, spirits, cultists… been adventuring against them for 5 years. Researching how to kill my sister’s possessor longer than that. There were no spirits to assist us, no help I could confide in once the job was done. It was just the training, the upgrading, the fighting, the wrath, the guilt, the remorse… until I got the Elder’s message and eventually ended up here.”
“The Elder knew, somehow. He suggested killing my sister was an act of mercy, that she’d forgive me for what happened. But I can’t forgive myself. I killed family and failed my promise to protect her; this is my repentence.
“You want to know why I was so hostile towards lycanthropes and spirits? That’s it. But my true rage is reserved for something else. I want to die striking a blow to them so hard it shatters their sense of invincibility… not disappearing in a sack dumped off a ship.”
She holds up the metallic falcon feather she found.
“Signature’s Jadus Stormswallow, distant cousin and failed wooer of my sister Alessa. He’s brought reinforcements from Khorvaire; they are staying in Ardhmen, if Devotion’s tracking beacon is with them. They’ve traveled halfway across the world after 7 years to find me. Not sure yet what they want, but… running again isn’t an option. Not while the Sleeper’s still a risk. So… what should we do about it?”
Mir sighs and pats Triliny’s shoulder, the feel of a gauntleted hand giving away her illusion of unarmoredness. “Not all promises can be kept, you know…”
She shakes her head, “So killing a possessed person in self defense isn’t a common thing then? Are you just presumed guilty?” she gives a humph, “Though I suppose it is a bit late to check for such things.”
She gives a sigh, “This… is a problem with revenge you see. I wonder if this… Jadus person would think your sister would actually want you dead? I certainly would not wish a loved one dead simply because they killed me, especially if I could not control myself. I assume since they chased you this far, they are not inclined to be reasoned with?”
Trilliny sighs and rubs her forehead. “I should’ve taken that one more seriously. When I made it, I was just thinking of rudely amorous seekers and the occasional cutpurse, not a fucking living nightmare. I barely knew how to shoot a crossbow, let alone KO someone with it! Instead I spent my time skulking around town and building robot crabs. Stupid, stupid, stupid!”
She sighs. "Killing possessed people in self-defense is less common than using it as an excuse. The legal processes for determining evidence of possession weren’t part of my knowledge when I was 14 years old, and it’s about as hard to find the Trust’s processes as it is to follow an eagle’s trail. That’s assuming he’s even working with the Trust instead of being here on his own, or working with someone else.
“And Jadus couldn’t figure out my sister’s wishes if you wrote them on a two-by-four and clubbed him with it. You’d think he’d get the hint after the 3rd time she rebuffed his advances. Regardless, I’ve never killed a gnome after me, and I’d prefer to keep it that way. I’d hope they can be reasoned with, or we can have them do a ritual that’ll prove my innocence, or just… convince them I’m not worth the trouble?”
She ponders that a moment, glancing at Fard.
Oasis pipes up. "Well, if he was rebuffing her advances and didn’t have feelings in return, then we don’t have to worry too much about being gentle with this. But yes, I can understand your wish not kill him, or even to hurt him, over this
“Surely you’ve learned a lot about fighting since then, and we definately have a better chance at ending this without loss of life. And knowing its comming can make it easier.”
Trilliny ponders that a moment. “Know it’s coming… we could Sending the Elder. He’d have an idea who’s with him and possibly what their motives here are.”
After the discussion’s done, Trilliny sees if Suen and the Kiris clan have anything to say on the matter. (Perhaps Jaccobrux as well, if he made an appearance?)
Jaccobrux floars into view, holding one of his books. “There has been reason for this ‘Elder’ and I to meet in the past. My experience of him is that he is mindful of the larger flow of events and leaves personal matters to those they directly affect. Doubtless, given recent event, he’d prefer you survive this trial. Still, it is yours and you must weather it. But perhaps I can answer part of your question.”
(if you weren’t in the lab already, he floats there assuming you will follow)
Jaccobrux activates the Ritual Circle, also causing the metallic gyrfalcon feather to float to its center. An image appears. The location is just outside Volgo’s Voice of Khorvaire in Ardhmen.
Jadus Stormswallow: In a controlled and seemingly emotionless tone, “That won’t be necessary, Morad.” He holds up a cage with a mechanical songbird, which is missing one wing. “In spite of what she’s done, is this still exists she is sure to come for it. We will not need to search her out.”
Morad (a sneering white haired gnome): “As you will, m’lord. Still, she must have thugs and minions working for her, or constructs more powerful that that toy. Will the men be enough?” He turns to look at a half dozen armed and armored gnomes.
Jadus: “Adequate for what comes, I should think.”
Jaccobrus: “The energy link remaining in the feather is expended. What you have learned will have to suffice.”
“So… recognize those gnomes? Thugs, mercenaries? Or from some other group?”
Trilliny’s attention seems focused on the white-haired one.
“Morad, one of Alessa’s old classmates. He’s sneering just like-” Her eyes go wide and she shudders. “Khyber, has he been possessed for 7 years?”
Trilliny nods at Jaccobrus. “It should be enough. Thank you. And sometime, I would like to see how you made that mimeoi. I’ve never seen one like it; it’s impressive.”
She turns to the party. “Morad the white-haired gnome was probably possessed by the same ritual that doomed my sister. I suspect he will make sure there’s a fight. I need to make some preparations before this…”
(Can Trilliny devise a method to extract & trap the spirit possessing Morad? From her research, would he return to normal if it’s extracted? Is it too late for him? Does she even know for sure? Is Jadus acting like he used to, or is there something different or wrong about him? Finally, does Trilliny recognize the armored gnomes, and does she think the party will be able to take them in a straight-up fight?)